Sunday, January 02, 2011

January Gardening

I know that January doesn't seem like such a great time to attend to gardening needs, but there really are a lot of things that can be done in January that will both make a difference in the upcoming gardening season and make your garden more attractive right away.

Lest we gardeners feel like we're doing all the work, well...a whole-lot-of work is already being done by plants and bacteria and fungi. Spring gardening can be a lot more productive when we help natural processes along in the Winter and make things ready for a burst of life in the Spring. Better not to have the excitement of Spring ruined by fast growing Wisteria and other vines.

Here are some good things to do in January...

Apply mulch - Mulch regulates soil temperature and moisture and does a great job suppressing weeds. It is often best to apply mulch right on top of leaves and straw since they then provide superb nutrients for your beds.

Get rid of unwanted vines and trees - English Ivy competes with your shrubs for water and food and is easy to remove in the Winter making way for proper bed maintenance in the Spring. Although Wisteria is not an evergreen, it does not hide itself very well. It is is actually easier to track down and get rid of Wisteria's underground runners (and root hubs) in the Winter when access in and out of beds is easier. Green Smilax shoots are easier to see in the winter, and the tubers can removed just as well in January as in July. The bark of Honeysuckle vine is also easier to see in Winter. It can usually be yanked right out of the ground. These three vines are so aggressive that they swarm your other plants in early Spring faster than you can shake a stick. May as well get rid of them now.

Winter is also a good time to remove some of the more common pesky large shrubs and trees such as Cherry Laurel, Ligustrum, Hackberry, Oak, and so forth. Oak saplings normally keep their leaves in the Winter and they just stick right out against the brown background.

Transplant - January is a good time to transplant shrubs and small trees.

Plant - January is a great time to plant a tree!

Clean up - One good thing about winter is that it is easier to see those piles of bricks and concrete or rocks in the back of a bed, old rotted landscaping timbers, or vines wrapped all over a fence or tree trunk. May as well get rid of that stuff while you're noticing it!

Prune and Clip - Obviously January is not the time to prune most flowering plants (best to wait until after they bloom), but it can be a great time to prune tree limbs that are hanging over your shrubs. Plants need fresh air and light.

Winter can also be a good time for neatening up non flowering hedges.

Trim - January is a good time to trim back monkey grass, get rid of the dying stalks and leaves of last year's daylilies, cut back Ginger lilies fallen all over each other, remove old Lantana stems and so forth.

I of course am available for these and other garden tasks. PLEASE feel free to forward this link along to anyone that you think could use my services - Columbia, Greensboro, and other select towns in the Carolinas.



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